At its February meeting, the South Dakota Commission on Teaching and Learning began examining the state’s alternative certification requirements.
“This is certainly an ongoing conversation, but we’ve made a lot of progress,” said Carla Leingang, commission member and administrator of certification and teacher quality for the South Dakota Department of Education. “Before we ever got to the nuts and bolts of what alternative certification requirements should be, we talked a lot about the importance of teaching as a profession. We don’t want to minimize teaching as a profession, but we also don’t want to put up unnecessary barriers.”
Leingang says the commission is studying three key areas within alternative certification:
1) Eligibility: What an individual must do to
qualify for alternative certification.
2) School district requirements: What school
districts must do to ensure an alternatively
certified individual is qualified and properly
supported through some kind of mentoring
3) Path to full certification: The commission
plans to work with higher education to
determine what coursework individuals going
through alternative certification need to
become fully prepared to teach.
The commission is also beginning discussions on what members are calling, “alternative preparation.” For a person to qualify for alternative certification, he or she must have a job offer from an accredited South Dakota school. “Alternative preparation” would define a path for professionals from other fields wanting to change careers, but who don’t have a teaching job offer. For instance, if an engineer wanted to become a teacher, “alternative preparation” would outline the coursework and training necessary for that person to become certified.
The commission will continue discussion of alternative certification at its next meeting, March 18-19.